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Something Greater

I started this piece several days ago.  Words ready to flow; at least I thought.  Putting my thoughts down, giving them the life they live in my head and my heart has always been nearly impossible.  It takes me time.  I am working to trust, rather than doubt my words.  Boy is that hard, as I sit here finishing a piece I started days ago.  The first piece in a week, or more.

I have re-read this piece several times: Does that make sense?  Is this expressing what’s happening in my head, my heart?  My thinking…is it even clear?  Do I want to share all these thoughts?  Each time I read this over, I found myself at the end.  There is something that changed in me at the end.

Let’s rewind to a few days ago:

I find myself thinking often: things will get easier-he will get used to it-we will get used to it.  I know this is true.  The needles-the medicine-the side effects-the doctor visits-the life we have now, we will get used to it.  Things will get easier.

But then my heart tells me something different.

There is nothing easy about cancer.  Nothing easy about seeing the person you love, your forever go through this.

I don’t want us to get used to it.  I don’t want this routine.  I don’t want this to be a part of our life.  I don’t want this to be our normal, even for the shortest of time.  My fear, getting used to it may appear as being strong and that terrifies me.  I’m such an emotional person to begin with, being strong is exhausting.  I can’t lock myself in a room to let all my worries-my pain out so that my family doesn’t see me breakdown.  I’ve had these moments already, and it’s taken a toll on me.

As much as I don’t want us to go through this, I also don’t want to show my children or my husband that this is no big deal.  I want to be positive.  I want to be free of worry.  I want my days to be peaceful.  I want all these things and more for my family.  But at what cost?

The verse in a Lumineers’ song comes to mind: It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.

For me, I want my husband, my children to see and feel whatever is happening.  I want them to be comfortable with letting everything out.  I want to show them that this is a difficult time.  There will be moments of breakdowns-fights-nurses-needles-sickness-fatigue.  Even some moments we have not yet experienced.  There is pain in the depths of our hearts.

With all of this pain, comes something greater.

Questions.  Like, “why is Daddy sleeping all day?-why are you guys fighting so much?-why does Daddy have to carry that bag again?-why are you guys crying?-why are people cooking dinner for us?”  Questions that will lead to conversations.  Important conversations.  Conversations that will lead to an understanding.  To empathy.

Comfort.  When Daddy had his last breakdown, we had a big family hug.  No words, just embracing each other.  Knowing that sometimes people just need connection.  The awareness that something releases in our body with a simple hug.

Fellowship.  Life is hard, but we don’t have to do it alone.  Witnessing the beauty of the human spirit.  Pure.  Selfless.  Kind.  A gift to my boys.  In a world where I fear they will coexist with hatred-fear-anger-isolation-selfishness, I can take a deep breath.  What family and friends – our people- have done for us, is more then they realize.  I haven’t been able to articulate the level of gratitude I have yet.  Yet.

Healing.  Healing beyond just the cancer.  Healing the damage even prior to this diagnosis.  It sucks -yeah that’s the nice word I’ll use- that something like this causes us to change our lives for the better.  We have made mistakes as parents, as siblings, as friends, as members of society -we have learned from them- we are healing together.

So, I’m not sure if being strong is best for me or my family.  There is so much we can gain from the pain.  I have to show how I’m living through this, so my family sees something greater.  That is best for us.


I Hear You

Tonight, after our ritual of reading books before bed, I held you in my arms; your head resting on my chest as your eyelids closed.  I stood there holding you, and began to understand.  All the pieces came together.  It’s all affecting you more than I thought.

Feeling your body against mine, thinking: all the clues.

I know someone will ask, “How are the boys handling everything?”

I hear you now.  I know not to just shrug you off, thinking you’re only 2 years old.

Your routines have changed.  You’ve had to go with someone you are less familiar with.  Stayed in a house that doesn’t feel like home.  Watched Mommy and Daddy walk out the door without you too many times.  Cried tears, soulful tears.  Thinking why?  Confusion.  Worry.

I hear that your scared.  I hear that life doesn’t feel safe anymore.

So tonight, I kept you in my arms.  Our bodies together.  I felt the weight of everything you’ve been carrying and I have you.  I am here.

Who You Are

This moment is ingrained, captured beyond a photograph, no explanation due.

My heart.  It bursts for you, my little one.  Even before you were born, the direction of my life shifted.  My life; give back everything you’ve gifted to me.  Ensure that you notice who you are.  Notice the process.  Grow a sense of agency.  Own, in your core, that you are enough.

Thank you once again, my Braeden.

I love you.

Brae Bowling with the Pack


The First Post

There will be.

That is the first thought that came to mind as I look at this blank screen.  Simple quick movements of the fingers, typing.  The first post begins.

In the past, I would sit and think about all the possibilities of how to begin writing this month; the first post.  I could write about beginning this challenge again.  I could write about the growth I’ve experienced as a writer, all that I have learned.  I could write how thankful I am to participate in this process.  I could write about how difficult it is going to be for me to accomplish this challenge.  I could write about failing this challenge, yet not failing at the same time.  I could sit here even longer thinking about what it could be.

This is a slice of life, this is about life.

All that is truly running through my mind is what there will be.  Fear.  Exhaustion.  Pain.  Anger.  Disagreements.  Guilt.  Regret.  Tears.  Emptiness.  Hate.

I am immersed and I don’t want to be.  Life is off balance.  Not what I imagined.  My there will be is never what I wanted it to be.  Ever.

While creating materials for my peers regarding this Slice of Life challenge, I found a quote or maybe it found me.

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging” – Joseph Campbell

There will be all that ugliness, but there will be more.  More opportunities.  Laughter.  Joy.  Memories.  Experiences.  Questions.  Comfort.  Friendship.  Family.  Life.

Nothing can take that way.  Ever.

I Get it, but…

Thank you for loving him.

I get that hearing the same song repeatedly can be annoying.  Especially when all the lyrics are not accurate, and it’s usually only one or two lines over and over.  I know, there are even Christmas songs…still.  At least he’s on key.  I get it, but he loves to sing.  It makes him happy.  I see pride in his face.  No fear or hesitation.  It brings him absolute pure joy.  Pure. Joy.

It may be startling when you have him growling at you like a fierce lion, or maybe he is Elsa shooting ice out of his palms, or Spiderman shooting webs, or Superman running fast (I mean flying), or maybe he’s a doctor taking care of you again, or maybe he is a chef (a dancing chef..in his words) asking what you would like to eat, or maybe a construction worker hammering over and over and over, the list goes on.  I get it, but he’s still only 4.  He’s discovering the world.  Discovering himself.  Imagining what could be, expanding his mind.  His life.

I know it’s extra work to clean up mess he’s created.  Just when you think you’re done, he’s caused a little extra.  We’re all tired.  We all have stress to deal with.  I know it slows everything down.  I get it, but he just wants to help.  It’s in his core.  Even when you don’t ask, he just does.  He feels needed.  Satisfied.

I understand, back to sound, particularly sound effects.  Annoying at times.  Excessive most times.  Loud every time.  Vaccuums, car wash, lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blower, really anything.  Anything that has a sound, he can generate a sound effect.  Anything.  Yes, again it’s loud.  It can create a head ache.  I get it, but when your pretending it’s crucial to have a sound.  He’s making things real.  Immersing himself.  Putting his all into everything.

It may be troublesome when he displays certain manners at the table.  There may be times when you wonder if he knows how to use a fork.  Why he’s blowing bubbles in his water (honestly, I sneak in a bubble or ten in my water too, it’s fun).  How a cheeseburger will never look like a cheeseburger again.  That he can be so much messier than his 1 year old brother.  I know, sometimes he may show you what is in his mouth.  I get it, but he’s still learning.  Still testing boundaries.  Asserting himself.  He knows manners, but he is just a kid and that pops out at the table every so often.

That’s right, you heard the word poop.  Not just once, I know.  There are a lot of silly things we hear coming out of his mouth.  Jokes.  Jokes.  Jokes.  I understand that they might not make sense.  I know we’re adults and it isn’t funny every time.  That being so silly has it’s limitations.  I get it, but he is showing you how important you are to him.  How comfortable he is with you.  He’s letting you in.  He knows that it’s not always funny, it’s a vulnerable place.  He’s trying to connect with you.  Breaking the ice.

So.  Thank you.  Coming deep from this mama’s heart.  Thank you for loving him anyway.




Learning by Connecting

“Flush,” I heard a students voice behind me say.  I look with a smirk, I see her.  “Not the toilet,” I laugh back.

An hour later…

I saw a student walking toward me.  “Hey,”  I say with a smile.  She returns the smile, “Hey”.  Her next words, “flush”.  We laugh.

In that moment, my mind returned to yesterday; to the end of they day.  A colleague and I run an after school club.  A math club.  There are 5th and 6th grade mathematicians, whose gears are turning, solving a wide range of mathematical puzzles.  A whole lotta math going on.  Except yesterday.  I mean, there was still math being learned and discovered, but yesterday there was also something more.

I came up to a group and in the process of conferring with them about their thinking and strategy, I said, “Look at the picture, the squares are flush.”  All three of them stopped and looked at me.  “Flush?”  I knew what they were thinking.  “Not the toilet!” I chuckled.  This of course prompted all of us to laugh.  “Well, what do you mean?”  I proceed to explain what it means to be flush, at least in this context.  “Oh.” I hear all three of them say.  “So look back at your puzzle, what does that make you think?”  There is no response.  They work together to shift things around, applying what we just talked about.

Before I left them, I told them that I expect them to remember the word flush.  When I see them in the hallway, I’m just going to say “flush” and I want them to remember what we talked about, and what it means.  Laughter arose again.  “Ok Mrs. Robertson, and we’ll do the same when we see you!”

There’s a whole lotta math going on, most of the time.  😉







Sunday Begins

This morning I was abruptly woken by Braeden yelling mommy, mommy, mommy!  I jolt out of bed thinking: did he get sick again, he’s being so loud, what if he wakes up Asher, it’s only 6:00 and I’m not ready to get up.  I open the door and I see Asher stand up and start jumping while giggling in his crib.  I hear, “Mommy, I’m awake.”  Even though I’m a little irritated, I can’t help but chuckle.  “I know.”  Once I see that Braeden is ok, I let him know that I’m not ready to get up.  I turn on the light in his room and go to my bed, expecting to fall back asleep.

I couldn’t fall back asleep.  I was listening intently on what was coming through the monitor.


-llaa laa, da da, ma ma ya ya (and other sorts of baby talk)

-a few thumps

-uh – oh (more baby talk)

-moments of silence


-Braeden breaking out into song:  “I’m on my way…..remember these country lanes when I did not know the answer and I drift away…….along the castle on the hill, ooh woo”

-oaah, ya ya (more baby talk)

It’s been almost 40 minutes.

Footsteps.  Closer, closer, closer.  “Mommy, could I have a little bit of your tape?”  I’m now beginning to wonder what is happening in the room next door.  “Yes, just this much.”  “Thank you mommy.”  Off he goes.

Footsteps again.  Closer, closer, closer.  “Special delivery!”

Braeden hands me two envelopes.  “I have a special delivery for you.”

Special Delivery

My heart bursts.  I make sure our eyes meet, “Thank you, Brae.”

“What do you think about eggs and bacon for breakfast?”  “Yes!Yes!Yes! Yeah!”

Sunday begins.